The Clicking Department is first stage of production. Here the shoe uppers and linings are cut. The ‘Clicker’ is a highly skilled operative; named after the ‘click’ sound which the hand cutting knife makes as it is removed from the end grain clicking board. The Clicker is responsible for examining the leather for any defects, scars or growth marks before cutting each pair by hand. A good clicker needs to be knowledgeable about the nature of leather, in order to maximise the usage whilst being aware of exactly which areas of the skin are most suitable for particular parts of the shoe.
At the next stage of production the uppers are ‘closed’. Closing involves many different operations such as punching holes for interlaced styles, 'skiving' (reducing) and beading (folding) the edges, machine stitching sections together to form the shoe upper and fitting eyelets. The Closing Room machinists are highly skilled requiring excellent hand and eye coordination.
Lasting & Making
The lasting process is where the shoe begins to take shape. The upper of the shoe is pulled over at the toe by the lasting machine, before being side lasted by hand. It is vital for the toe laster to ensure that the shoe upper is fitted accurately to the last. An important process in this department is ‘Welt Sewing’ where a curved needle passes obliquely through one edge of the welt (a strip of leather or plastic) to sew a 'chain stitch' through the upper and lining to the rib on underside of the insole. The welt is a key element in the Goodyear Welted process. The cavity formed within the bottoms of the shoes by the upstanding rib are filled with cork or felt, and wooden shanks are inserted to provide support beneath the insoles. The soles are then stitched by means of a vertical 'lock stitch' (in the case of crepe or leather soles) or welded (in the case of 'heatseal' soles) to the welt. This method allows for the soles to be removed for repair in some cases without affecting the uppers.
In the Finishing Department the edges are trimmed for a smooth finish and crepe 'foxings' attached by hand as appropriate. Here the hinged lasts are removed from the shoes. Edge trimming is a highly skilled and physical process, whereby the sole edges are trimmed to the specific shape of the last. This is done ‘free hand’ like many other operations in Goodyear Welted shoe making.
In the Shoe Room the uppers of the shoes are cleaned, in-socks are fitted and laces added before the shoes are boxed.